Is there anything worse than being hit with anxiety as soon as you wake up? What can you do to wake up calmer, happier and less anxious?
It feels like that churning feeling in the pit of your stomach is there waiting for you as soon as your eyes open in the morning, followed closely by the instant ‘what if…?’ negative type thoughts that set off a chain of more anxiety-inducing thoughts.
‘What if that email didn’t come through?’
‘Have I paid that water bill?’
‘I can’t send Jamie to school with that hole in his shoe.’
The outcome: bags of morning anxiety and instant stress.
I’m going to be honest from the outset and tell you that morning anxiety isn’t something you can fix overnight.
The reason we wake up and feel instantly anxious is a build up of things that have been going on in our lives for a while.
If you’ve not slept well for a while, you can’t expect to fix that overnight. If you hate your job, you can’t expect to change that in a day. If money is tight, it’s unlikely the money fairy is stopping by anything soon.
But, with all this said, you can start to immediately improve things, including how you feel when you first wake up.
Right now, you can make a conscious decision to do something different when you wake up tomorrow morning. If you do that, you can start to make the changes you’re looking for.
Here are seven handy and simple tips to help you make your mornings better and less anxious.
Give yourself time
Feeling rushed and frantic is marvellous for upping your anxiety levels. If you want to get those anxiety levels down to a better place of balance, you need to give yourself time – so you feel less rushed and frantic. If you set your alarm for 7am, and you’ve got to be out of the house by 7.30am, is 30 minutes enough time to complete your morning routine? If it is and you’ve perfected it down to the minute, I’ll suggest to you that it’s not enough time if you still feel anxious. Set your alarm a little earlier, and give yourself some more breathing space. How you start your day usually dictates the rest of it.
Snooze you lose
Snoozing and staying in bed is just prolonging the pain. Why? Because when you’re sleeping you’re not taking action. It’s as bad as sweeping your problems under the carpet. The problems don’t go away – they grow under that carpet and get worse. Ultimately, there is only one thing that is going to ease your morning anxiety: Taking action. Action is the one thing that will help you overcome any form of anxiety – morning anxiety included. Know that when you stay in bed, nothing is changing. Be prepared to get up and take action.
Up your energy
If you’re feeling extra frisky, jump up straight out of bed as soon as you wake up. Start stretching your body out. Even better, do some exercises, like push-ups and star jumps. This might sound crazy and like it just won’t happen, but if you want to feel radically different in the morning, you’ve got to do something radically different. Even if you do it for 30 seconds, it could make all the difference. We’re talking about realigning your focus here. By doing this, you could ‘forget’ to be anxious – and that will set you on a different course.
Put your phone down!
The alarm on your phone goes off, and if you don’t hit the snooze button and roll over to go back to sleep, you’re straight on your phone checking your social media or news feed. News is generally news because it’s bad news, and social media is proven to increase your anxiety. If you’re doing these things as soon as your eyes open, there are no prizes for guessing what you’ll get in return. (Remember what we said about how you start your day?)
Prepare the night before
How you feel when you wake up is directly affected by yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. Don’t worry about the big stuff for now – just focus on the small step you can take. One of those small steps is to prepare the night before. If you know you’ve got stuff coming up for work, school, or whatever, prepare for it the night before. Get your bag ready. Get your clothes ready. Without getting too OCD about it, do what you can to prepare for the next day. Your brain likes routine, and setting yourself up by getting rid of the unknown will drop those anxiety levels in the morning.
Swap the caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that will fuel your anxiety. If you’re using caffeine to keep you awake, you’re also indirectly using it to make your anxiety worse. Swap your tea and coffee for decaf options or herbal teas, like Green Tea and Chamomile Tea.
Get a better sleeping pattern
The reason I used to wake up feeling like a zombie had a lot to do with me only getting a few hours of sleep (if I were lucky). Getting your sleep pattern right is one of the most difficult things you can do, but if you can start to improve it, even just a little bit, it will go a hell of a long way towards you feeling less anxious in the morning. There are some myths when it comes to getting better sleep, and you’re best to check out my interview with Stephanie Romiszewski (Channel 4’s sleep expert) to get you going in the right direction.
Stay patient and give yourself time. Keep taking action, and with each small step, know that your mornings will continue to get better.
Here’s to calmer, happier, less anxious mornings!